YOU MAY REMEMBER A WHILE BACK I POSTED ARTICLES ABOUT TONY THE BUTCHER PARTS 1&2.HERE IS A DIFFERENT ANGLE ON THE SAME STORY……………….Eddie Munoz knows a secret about Las Vegas.

As the operator of one of the city’s oldest in-room adult entertainment services, Munoz knows Vegas is a town fuelled by the unceasing buzz of money and vice. When he was at the top of his game his phones rang 100 times a day, and he dispatched private nude “dancers” (prostitution is illegal in Las Vegas) to the hotels along the Strip fifteen to twenty times a night, raking in, he says, $240,000 a year in referral fees.

That’s not the secret.

The secret, Munoz says, lies in the hundreds of miles of modern glass fiber and aging copper wire buried beneath the town’s sun-baked streets, and in the dozens of digital switches that speed data and voice from one end of the Strip to the other. Munoz believes that for a decade a shadowy cabal of criminals, corrupt insiders and professional hackers has had an illicit stranglehold on Vegas cyberspace, and all but muscled him out of the adult entertainment industry by selectively blocking, tapping and rerouting the telephone lines crucial to the outcall biz.

“In this business, you receive your calls from five o’clock in the afternoon until five o’clock in the morning, and that’s when they hit us,” says Munoz. “It’s like you’re the Maytag man. The phone will not ring.”

These days Munoz is lucky if he gets one or two customers a night, and his once great empire of vice is a threadbare operation run from an office in his home, far from Vegas’ neon core. He’s hanging on primarily through his hard-won ownership of nearly half of the five hundred licensed news racks on the Strip, which he crams with stacks of his own paper, “The Las Vegas Informer” — twelve gritty pages of advertisements for “Red Hot Red Heads” and “Hot Hot Hot Tall Sexy Blondes.” Until recently, every phone number advertised in the paper went to Munoz’s switchboard, yet his phones still didn’t ring. The economics of the situation eventually forced him to sell advertising space to a competitor to pay the rent.

Munoz’s phone problems are legion; his log of trouble-reports stretches longer than a junkie’s rap sheet. Callers from outside Vegas, or from payphones and cell phones, get through, he says, but hotel callers get false busy signals, or reach silence, driving them into the arms of competing services. Sometimes calls are rerouted directly to a competitor, he claims. And when a would-be customer does get through, and Munoz dispatches a dancer to the tourist’s hotel room, she’s likely to find another entertainer already there. “Sometimes they beat us to the calls, like they’re listening,” says Munoz.

At least three other adult entertainment outfits, a private investigator and a bail bondsman have reported similar patterns. “I’d get half a ring, and pick up the phone, and there would be no one there,” says Hilda Brauer, the former owner of the now-defunct “Sexy Girls” outcall service. In 1998, Brauer filed suit against the local phone company, a competitor she blamed for the problem, and the publisher of the Donnelly Directory, in which Sexy Girls had seven full page ads. She later dropped the suit, closed her business, and now makes her living telling fortunes for a psychic hotline. “I lost my home, I had to sell my furniture to get money to move into an apartment,” says Brauer.

Peter Vilencia, a former bail bondsman, had phone problems as well. Vilencia purchased Bail Bonds Inc. in 1996, and, after a week of brisk business springing drunken tourists and small time crooks from the Clark County Detention Center, he suddenly suffered a sharp drop in call volume. “At 4:00 in the afternoon Friday, my phone would stop ringing,” says Vilencia, who sold the company last year. “Almost every weekend for nearly four years, you could set your watch by it.”Could the Vegas cyber jacking be a myth, woven from the detritus of failed businesses and blurry technological anecdotes? If so, it’s a myth that’s attained the status of ‘common knowledge’ on Vegas’ nocturnal fringe, and in one bizarre case, it almost made an adult entertainment operator the victim of brutal mob reprisal.

Vinnie “Aspirins” and his power drill
It happened in 1998: An FBI investigation into police corruption in Vegas turned up a six-man organized crime plot to muscle in on a handful of successful Las Vegas outcall services, which had been trouncing a mob-backed venture headed by one of the men, Christiano DeCarlo.

According to court documents, the conspirators, allegedly affiliated with the Gambino crime family, were particularly interesting in moving in on Richard Soranno, the owner of one of the town’s largest services, Vegas Girls. They believed Soranno had been diverting phone calls from competitors, including DeCarlo, with the help of a mysterious computer expert named Charles Coveney.

“Coveney has contacts in the Sprint Telephone Company and is able to have telephone calls diverted from one number to another,” the gangsters believed, according to an FBI affidavit. The men expected to “persuade” Coveney to leave Seranno “and assist DeCarlo in his out call business by diverting telephone calls to DeCarlo.” Among the persuasive tools at the gang’s disposal, an enforcer named Vinnie “Aspirins” Congiusti, flown in from Tampa, who reputedly earned his nickname by once using a cordless power tool to drill holes in someone’s head.

When the mobsters began scouring Las Vegas for Coveney, the FBI was forced to swoop in, prematurely pulling the plug on a massive undercover operation. All six men later plead guilty to conspiracy. Vinnie “Aspirins” died in jail from apparent heart failure last year.

Today, there’s no love lost between Munoz and Soranno; Munoz believes, but admits he cannot prove, that Soranno is one of the masterminds of a plot to destroy his business, while Soranno says that’s exactly the kind of talk that nearly got him whacked……………………………………..If Sprint Central Telephone has never been hacked, the company is a rarity among telecommunications carriers. But SecurityFocus has learned that the company’s Las Vegas network may not be immune to hackers after all.

“Vegas was easy”
Until he went on the lam in the early nineties, Las Vegas was a home-away-from-home for the world’s most famous hacker, Kevin Mitnick, who had family in town. And from approximately 1992 until his February 1995 arrest, Mitnick says he enjoyed substantial illicit access to the Vegas network. What’s more, he recalls once being approached with an offer to redirect calls from an adult entertainment service for a single weekend, for $3,000. “They wanted me to somehow take control of the line and forward it,” Mitnick recalls.”

“It would have taken, had I wanted to do it, all of three minutes.”

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